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Cablegate: It Is Now 2008: What Have You Done for Us Lately? Meeting

VZCZCXRO7046
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0002/01 0081615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081615Z JAN 08
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0884
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1016
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1080

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HILLAH 000002

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR PREL IZ
SUBJECT: IT IS NOW 2008: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR US LATELY? MEETING
WITH IRAQI OFFICIALS IN NAJAF

HILLAH 00000002 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This is a PRT Najaf cable.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Governor Asaad Abu Gulal al-Tae and various
advisors met with PRT Leader and PRToff at former Camp Endeavor,
on January 2. Recommending airport security and design
companies, planning the upcoming tourism conference, visiting
Kufa University, moving the PRT to Najaf, developing local
banking infrastructure, a request for facilities for a Shi'a
tribal office, seeking a meeting with Ambassador Crocker and
Shi'a tribal sheikhs and delivering new scholastic textbooks
were among the topics discussed. END SUMMARY.

3. (SBU) Team Leader noted he had passed recommendations for
three airport security companies to Deputy Governor Abtan, at
his request (Armor Group, Sally Port, and Global). The Governor
suggested the Team Leader coordinate with Mike McCormick
(Transportation Attache) and recommend one company. He also
said he would be comfortable if the USG would recommend one
airport consultant and design manager, rather than refer choices
to the Najaf authorities, since he had confidence in the
expertise of the US Embassy Transportation Attache. The Team
Leader said he would pass the Governor's views to the
Transportation Attache in Baghdad. Governor Al-Tae said Deputy
Governor Abtan was expected to return from meeting with the
airport consulting firm in Erbil that had been the British firm
John Scott's subcontractor in Erbil. The Governor also stated
that distant business people will not come to Najaf without an
airport and that more than two million people came to Najaf
during the recent Eid Al Adha at the end of December without
incident.

4. (SBU) Team Leader noted the importance of planning the Najaf
tourism conference in advance. The Governor recommended it be
held during the month of March. He went on to state that the
airport project will contribute to the success of the conference
and that buses from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait had come
to Najaf during the recent Eid Al Adha without incident. The
Governor supported the idea of an independent tourism training
institute, which could be managed under the DG of Tourism. The
Team Leader agreed that such a training facility would useful,
suggesting that Kufa University might also be a possible
institutional home for such a facility. The Governor noted that
he had laid a foundation stone for such a facility in the past,
but nothing further had ever happened. Governor Al-Tae agreed
that Kufa University could cooperate with the Tourism Committee
and the Tourism DG in planning for such a facility, as well as
the tourism conference.

5. (SBU) Team Leader noted that he planned to visit Kufa
University on January 3 to discuss TOEFL training, installing IT
connectivity between Kufa campuses, and distant learning
classes.

6. (SBU) Governor Al-Tae asked for an update on the PRT's move
to Najaf. The Team Leader said the MiTT team had just arrived
at Camp Endeavor and that he looked forward to working with
Najaf from the new location in the near future. The Governor
reiterated that the PRT is responsible for Najaf and warmly
welcomed its relocation to Najaf.

7. (SBU) Team Leader introduced newly arrived Finance and
Banking Advisor Darrell Brown, who said he was here to assist
with the local banking industry. The Governor responded on the
spot that there are five or six government banks and four or
five private banks in Najaf and promised to arrange a meeting
between Darrell Brown and local bankers within the next week.

8. (SBU) The Governor introduced the PRT Leader to Sheikh Jasab
Al-Hillo, his Advisor for Tribal Affairs, who requested
assistance in funding the construction of a building for holding
meetings of local tribal sheikhs on a regular basis. The sheikh
stated the tribes owned land on which the building could be
located. The Team Leader was non-committal.

9. (SBU) The Governor requested a meeting with Ambassador
Crocker for himself and 22 Najaf Shi'a sheikhs. He noted that
the Sunni sheikhs had received a great deal of attention and
financial support and that the Shi'a sheikhs were envious of
that attention. Governor Al-Tae also stated the GOI is opposed
to CLC programs in Shi'a areas, but was concerned that the
aforementioned envy could fan discontent toward coalition and
GOI entities, and recommended the USG consider doing some
programming for Shi'a tribes. When Team Leader noted the
Governor's colleague in Diwaniyah was completely opposed to the
non-CLC agriculture union's seed and fertilizer support program
for rural tribes, the Governor laughed and said, "That's because
he is not distributing them, the Iraqi Army is doing it.
Anyway, I would just like to see some programs to support
tribes, and if you are doing such programs in Najaf, I don't
even care if the Army distributes the seeds and fertilizer."

HILLAH 00000002 002.2 OF 002

10. (SBU) Team Leader gave the Governor a box of new, nicely
illustrated Scholastic Arabic elementary school textbooks to
review, saying many more could be made available to Najaf
schools in the near future, if the Najaf DG of Education wanted
them. Governor Al-Tae admired the books and said he would like
the books for schools with "talented" students. He also said
the MOE could not object to the books being placed in school
libraries, if they were not formally made part of the school
curriculums. He opined that there were 1,000 schools in Najaf
that could benefit from the books, and would respond to the Team
Leader after reviewing them with his Education DG.
SIMMONS

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